The Politicized Muse
Music for Medici Festivals, 1512-1537
Anthony M. Cummings


During the years between the restoration of the Medici to Florence and the election of Cosimo I, the Medici family sponsored a series of splendid public festivals, reconstructed here by Anthony M. Cummings. Cummings has utilized unexpectedly rich sources of information about the musical life of the time in contemporary narrative accounts of these occasions—histories, diaries, and family memoirs. In this interdisciplinary work, he explains how the festivals combined music with art and literature to convey political meanings to Florentine observers. As analyzed by Cummings, the festivals document the political transformation of the city in the crucial era that witnessed the end of the Florentine republic and the beginnings of the Medici principate. This book will interest all students of the life and institutions of sixteenth-century Florence and of the Medici family. In addition, the author furnishes new evidence about the contexts for musical performances in early modern Europe. By describing such contexts, he ascertains much about how music was performed and how it sounded in this period of music history and shows that the modes of musical expression were more varied than is suggested by the relatively few surviving examples of actual pieces of music.

First published in 1992.